Eating plenty of folate from leafy green vegetables, beans and fruit may sharply reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, at least for women, report South Korean researchers.
In a study of 596 colorectal cancer patients and 509 healthy individuals, they found that the women who ate the most folate were at about two-thirds lower risk of the disease than women who consumed the smallest amount of the B vitamin.
Folate intake didn't significantly affect men's colorectal cancer risk.
Women with high folate consumption (over 300 micrograms a day) were 64 percent less likely to develop colorectal cancer compared to women with the lowest consumption (200 micrograms daily or less).
The findings are important, the researchers note, because they suggest that cancer risk can be decreased by modifying diet.
The body needs folate in order to form the nucleotide building blocks of DNA and RNA, to copy DNA, and for other essential genetic functions.
Researchers believe low folate intake could contribute to colorectal cancer by making genetic mutations more likely.
The best food sources of folate include edamame (young soybeans), asparagus, okra, and pigeon peas. Six spears of asparagus provides 166 micrograms of folate.
This study was published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
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